Earning a Master’s in Information Systems Online

Should I Pursue a Master's in Information Systems Online?

Jobs in information security continue to grow as businesses rely more heavily on data processing, automated systems, and cloud computing storage. Much of this data includes sensitive information, such as medical records or billing information. Companies continue to seek qualified information systems professionals to take on jobs in research and development of new technology, plus network architects, systems analysts, and database administrators.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% growth among all computer occupations through 2026, and much of that growth will come from third-party companies offering information technology contracting and cloud hosting services. An online master's in management information systems ensures graduates have the technical expertise necessary to tackle their job responsibilities, and provides a business foundation that may offer a competitive edge in the job market. Universities offering specializations in fields such as healthcare, data analysis, and project management provide excellent opportunities to break into these growing concentrations.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Information Systems Graduates

Master's in Information Systems Salary

Sensitive business information may include sales data, customers' personal information, or proprietary data on strategic business decisions, like new products or software. An online master's in management information systems prepares graduates for exciting and lucrative careers in these growing fields. Job-seekers should consider how their salary may grow over time, from an entry-level average of $64,915 to more than $96,000 for a 20-year career veteran, according to the BLS. Location also impacts salary expectations and job availability: New York, for example, offers the highest mean wage for information systems workers at $187,770, while California provides the most jobs, with 53,270 computer and information systems managers employed.

Top Paying States for Computer and Information Systems Managers

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
New York 26,520 $187,770
New Jersey 13,900 $175,830
California 53,270 $174,790
Virginia 13,460 $169,660
District of Columbia 4,060 $164,310
United States 365,690 $149,730

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Information Systems Managers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $64,915
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $79,174
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $87,996
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $96,455

Source: PayScale

Master's in Information Systems Careers

Computer programming and architecture form the core job responsibilities for most information systems professionals, but their day-to-day work can vary significantly between career paths. Prospective professionals should analyze the industry in which they hope to work, such as finance, banking, or healthcare, and consider the parts of information systems they most enjoy -- security, developing new applications, ensuring data integrity, or troubleshooting IT problems. The field rewards professionals who bring practical technical knowledge to the workplace, combined with problem-solving and analytical thinking abilities. Depending on the job, individuals may also need strong communication and interpersonal skills and creativity.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Annual Median Salary: $114,520
Projected Growth Rate: 19%

This specialized field looks to next-generation technology advances. The scientists work collaboratively with teams of engineers to improve the user experience through a variety of technologies. They may develop new computing languages or tools, research solutions to computing challenges, or develop sophisticated algorithms to advance artificial intelligence or cloud computing.

Computer Network Architects

Annual Median Salary: $104,650
Projected Growth Rate: 6%

A company's network makes sure all team members can communicate internally and externally. Network architects use their advanced knowledge of computer programming, business plans, and the available hardware and software to design network solutions. They maintain equipment such as routers and modems to keep up with changes in technology and ensure network security.

Computer Programmers

Annual Median Salary: $82,240
Projected Growth Rate: -7%

Computer programmers work closely with software developers, using developers' ideas to build functioning software applications. Programmers often troubleshoot new applications to ensure they work correctly, and fix any errors before introducing the applications to end users. These professionals must pick up new computer languages easily, as these may change as technology changes, and they often need specialized industry knowledge to understand which business functions their programs must perform.

Computer Systems Analysts

Annual Median Salary: $88,270
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Systems analysts keep organizations' hardware, software, and network systems operating correctly. They often test and diagnose IT problems, and develop recommendations for improvements. Systems analysts also plan for overall upgrades, from choosing new computer software and hardware to designing network changes. They develop and oversee projects, and ensure adherence to budget constraints.

Database Administrators

Annual Median Salary: $87,020
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Database administrators ensure business data remains organized and easily accessible to departments. They manage information protocols that include monitoring performance, maintaining data backup, and implementing security and access measures. They may specialize in a particular field, like healthcare records or banking, or serve as generalists. The growth of cloud computing has increased the demand for database administrators in third-party service providers, though many companies continue to employ their own dedicated database teams.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Information Systems Program?

Top universities offering online master's in information systems degrees ensure students gain a strong foundation in computer programming, application development, and database management. Most programs offer electives and concentrations to enhance students' degrees, but these may vary significantly from school to school. See below for an example curriculum.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Information Systems

  1. Information Technology and Project Management: Often, information technology projects involve multiple team members offering their unique skills and knowledge to the project. Project management provides information systems managers the skills and tools to plan and organize each project effectively. This includes developing the initial scope of work and cost estimates, assigning appropriate action items, and tracking progress against fixed budget and scheduling targets.
  2. Application Software Infrastructure: Information systems specialists may need to develop proprietary applications to handle critical business functions. This class covers application development for multiple operating systems, such as UNIX/Linux, Windows, and iOS for mobile devices. Students learn how each system processes commands, maintains storage, and manages file access, plus underlying directories and security measures.
  3. Business Database Systems: Database systems hold and organize businesses' information, making it easily accessible as needed. Students learn to design database systems that make it possible to manage data and manipulate it for a variety of reporting purposes.
  4. Cybersecurity: All information systems professionals should understand fundamental cybersecurity threats and protections. Students learn to perform holistic risk assessments for network security, and develop appropriate access controls and network architecture to minimize that risk. The course also covers ethical and legal issues, along with defense and countermeasure techniques.
  5. Applied Data Mining and Analytics in Business: In this course, students learn to prepare structured and unstructured data using a variety of mathematical, statistical, and artificial intelligence algorithms and techniques. Students can then draw conclusions from the data, or develop business forecasting models to assist in strategic business growth decisions. The course requires a foundation in statistical analysis.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Information Systems Prepares For

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional: Administered by (ISC)2, this certification ensures information systems professionals understand the latest cybersecurity risk management measures and countermeasures -- especially individuals working in areas of network architecture or security. The exam covers eight cybersecurity domains, and individuals must have five years of paid work experience in the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge.
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor: The CISA credential certifies information systems professionals' ability to audit IT and business systems, and monitor their performance. Administered by the ISACA, the CISA process includes an exam, evidence of related professional experience and a bachelor's or master's degree, and complete ongoing professional education.